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GOVT 2301


Real liberty is neither found in despotism nor the extremes of democracy, ... as he admits. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: GOVT 2301

GOVT 2301
  • Federalist 10 and the Republicanism

In the previous section we looked over the nature
of Constitutions and analyzed the broad design of
the United States and Texas Constitutions, as
well as the alleged failures of the Articles of
This week we begin a series of lectures designed
to dig deeper into specific design features
within each document, primarily the United States
We will look separately at these four
PowersIndividual LibertyFederalism
This week RepublicanismIn other words
Indirect Democracyor Representative Democracy
For a reminder What is a Republic Again?A
republic is a type of government where the
citizens choose the leaders of their country and
the people (or at least a part of its people)
have an impact on its government. -Wikipedia
More specifically, it means that the preferences
of the general population are filtered through
representative institutions.Try to memorize the
filter as an analogy. In brief, a republic
attempts to filter out short-term, unstable,
radical ideas in order to ensure that the actions
of government reflect long term, stable concerns.
As we will see, the principle concern by the
framers of the Constitution was that powerful,
permanent majorities would be able to control all
aspects of governing power, become tyrannical,
and disregard the rights of the majority.In
short a republic is argued to be better able to
prevent the tyranny of the majority.
In a republic, people do not rule directly, as in
the Athenian democracy, rather they do so though
elected representatives.Read Pericles on
Athenian Democracy here.
We will consider this topic by reading through
Federalist 10 which argues that the Constitution
successfully limit the dangers posed by factions
motivated by personal, narrow interests, not the
overall interests of the nation. It does so by
filtering their preferences through a legislative
system that will break apart majority factions.
Please note that I expect you read through
Federalist 10 and be prepared to answer a
handful of questions regarding its
A faction, as the term was used by Madison, is
similar to what we would call today interest (or
advocacy) groups.As we will see, the
Constitution is designed in part to impact how
groups form in the nation and how capable those
groups are to creating instability.
Consequently, this allows us to take an early
look at interest groups, what they are, how they
form, and how they are or are not effective.
At root, this section concerns a conflict that
exists between the concept of popular sovereignty
and democracy.
While we know from our discussion of natural
rights that a government must rest on the people,
history tells us that the people can provide an
unstable basis for government.
Classical authors argued that democracies
inevitably turned chaotic and out the chaos
emerged a tyranny that would keep the peace. Read
criticism of the Athenian democracy here. The
Framers of the Constitution were aware of these
The democratic system was believed to be the
reason Greece was defeated in the Peloponnesian
A democratic assembly was also responsible for
the execution of Socrates.
They were also aware that being wealthy property
owners, they were in a minority. A democratic
majority could take their property, which they
saw as a violation of their unalienable rights.
Recall the tension between majority rule and
minority rights.In a democracy the nature of
minority rights can be defined by the majority.
The real problem, as they saw it, lied in human
nature. As we will see later, Madison thought
we far more likely to vex and oppress each
other than to cooperate. This would be fatal in a
direct democracy, but manageable in an indirect
A tyrannical system can suppress divisions in
society because they are powerful and ruthless
enough to eradicate them.Stalin dealt with
opposition groups by killing them.
Thats one way to solve the problem.
Democracies, which naturally require a degree of
individual freedom, allow these divisions to take
center stage and lead to conflict. Utter chaos
civil wars can lead some to conclude that a
tyrannical leader is preferable to random
This was Thomas Hobbes conclusion in The
Leviathan, written during the British Civil Wars.
Democracy can lead to tyranny.
The word democracy therefore wasnt a
compliment. Think about how people use the term
socialism today, it was similar.
The goal of the U.S. Constitution is to maintain
popular rule, to ensure that it did not crumble
into tyranny. The question was how.
Madison would argue that the answer to these
problems was in designing a well-constructed
This would involve creating a republic with
strong independent but accountable legislative
institutions that rest between the people and the
So while it is true that the U.S. is a democracy,
the democratic design is such that the electorate
has a no capacity to instantaneously change
While the Preamble begins with We the People,
much of the remainder of the U.S. Constitution
protects government from the people.
That is what a republic does.
Before we continue, lets recall what democracy
means.It means, in Greek, rule of the people,
and as is practiced today has three main
components. We introduced these previously.
1 - Universal Adult Suffrage
2 - Majority Rule
3 - Minority Rights
Obviously we can question whether the U.S.
qualified as a democracy at that point given
restrictions on suffrage.We discuss these in
the section on elections. For now it is important
to know that restricted suffrage was a deliberate
choice by the framers.
The framers of the Constitution were worried
about the excesses of democracy, and sought
instead to limit the direct impact of the
population, while still retaining the basic
democratic framework.
The evils we experience flow from the excess of
democracy. Elbridge Gerry He was referring
to the problems the nations was allegedly
suffering from under the Articles of
From the Constitutional Convention Mr.
HAMILTON. This question has already been
considered in several points of view. We are now
forming a republican government. Real liberty is
neither found in despotism nor the extremes of
democracy, but in moderate governments.
The people who attended the Constitutional
Convention believed that the policies proposed by
the democratic legislatures in the states were
harmful to the future stability of the union.
The legislatures were, for example, debasing
currency to allow for easier payments of debt
even though this policy, in their opinion, harmed
long term economic development.
James Madison would mention these specifically in
the latter parts of Federalist 10.Paper
MoneyThe Abolition of DebtsRedistribution of
In a republic, a variety of institutions lay
between the population and the formulation,
implementation and adjudication of the law.
Collectively these are supposed to limit efforts
to harm the minority.
On the national level this includes A
Bicameral CongressA Singular ExecutiveAn
Appointed Judiciary
These are established in the first three articles
of the U.S. Constitution ,and they are structured
in such a way to be independent of each
other.This introduces a topic we will cover
more thoroughly in the next section.
Each institution is put in office through a
separate process, which insulates them in
different ways from the national
electorateHouse the peopleSenate the
statesPresident the electoral collegeCourts -
And each institution has a different term length,
which also insulates it from the national
electorateHouse 2 yearsSenate 6
yearsPresident 4 yearsCourts - Lifetime
The longer the term, the greater the insulation.
(Think about this like the length of a dogs
leash.)The Anti-Federalists wanted the shortest
terms possible yearly if possible.
The fact that only one third of the Senate is up
for election every two years shields that
institution from ever being subject to the
immediate preferences of the electorate.
The fact that the federal courts serve for life,
in addition to being appointed, means that they
never face the electorate.
The U.S. Constitution is full of factors which
place distance between governing institutions and
the people.Jacksonian Democracy stood opposed
to this.
As we already know, the Texas Constitution was
influenced by the Jacksonian movement.Texas
government has a similar structure, though the
institutions are more closely tied to the Texas
All institutions are elected, meaning that they
are all subject to the preferences of the
majority. Question does this makes tyranny of
the majority more likely at the state level than
the national? We will explore this later.
Terms lengths tend to be shorter in Texas than in
the USTexas House 2 yearsTexas Senate 4
yearsTexas Governor 4 yearsTexas Judiciary
6 years
Only one half of the Texas Senate is up for
reelection every two years.The Texas Judiciary
is elected, not appointed, but serves staggered
six year terms.
As a consequence, the people do not rule, rather
they elect representatives to rule for them and
then have the periodic opportunity to replace or
retain them.
This raises a question about what popular
sovereignty actually means. Are the people
always sovereign, or is their sovereignty limited
to the decisions they make in periodic
elections?This issue was brought up before in
the introductory slides.
Again, while the people are indeed sovereign, the
range of their power is limited. As we will see
when we read through Fed 10, the Constitutional
system is designed to convert all interest into
minority interests.
This checks the power of the majority
power.Think of republicanism as a check on the
power of the people.
Again, we explore this issue by reading through
one of the more influential of the Federalist
Federalist 10 The Utility of the Union as a
Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and
Insurrection- written by James Madison-
The Text of Fed 10Wikipedia Fed 10
James Madison wrote Fed 10 and argued that the
well constructed union created in the
Philadelphia Convention would prevent the United
States from falling prey to one of the
consequences of democratic government.
Democracies, historically, have been unstable,
violent, and short lived. Majorities are able to
oppress minorities. Policy can shift radically
based on shifts in popular sentiment.
Although people must be free to participate
politically, the general public must be unable to
destabilize government. Majorities must be unable
to undermine the rights of the minority.
How can this be best done?
Why does Madison care?The wealthy are a
minority and in a democracy their property may be
subject to redistribution and the money owed them
might be subject to being forgiven.
A similar sentiment would be expressed by the
Danbury, Connecticut Baptist Association in 1801
in a letter to Jefferson. They were concerned
that the laws of Connecticut at the time placed
them, as a minority, in a position where their
religious liberty would be determined by the
what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor
part of the state) we enjoy as favors granted,
and not as inalienable rights and these favors
we receive at the expense of such degrading
acknowledgements as are inconsistent with the
rights of freemen.
They wondered if Jefferson believed that their
freedom to worship as they choose would be
protected. Jefferson responded in his letter
stating he believed that the First Amendment
created a wall of separation between church and
Here is a basic outline of the argument in
Federalist 10. It should not substitute a full
reading of the document itself.
He begins with a statement of the problem
Factions have always destroyed democracies.
Groups form with interest opposed to others or to
the overall interests of the people.
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens,
whether amounting to a majority or a minority of
the whole, who are united and actuated by some
common impulse of passion, or of interest,
adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to
the permanent and aggregate interests of the
community. - Madison
Think of factions as interest groups, what we
would call today, special interests.
Factions can be dealt with by focusing on causes
or effects
By focusing on the causes we can prevent factions
from developing.By focusing on the effects we
allow factions to form but ensure that they
cannot do damage to the republic.
There are two principle causes of
Freedom allows people the right to form into
groups and participate politicallyDiversity
refers to fact that people are different in their
ability to process information and in the nature
of their interests.
But the elimination of freedom is worse than the
disease.Freedom is essential.
The right to form factions would later be made
clear in the First Amendment.Congress shall
make no law . Abridging the right of the people
to peacefully assemble and petition government
for a redress of grievances.
Diversity is inevitable in a free society.
It is impossible to make people the same. We are
naturally diverse. It is in our nature to form
into groups based on our self interest and come
into conflict with others with opposing interests.
1 - People reason in different, often incorrect
ways and tend to grow attached to their ideas.2
Various interests evolve in a civilized society
and groups evolve around those interests
Plus It is in our nature to vex and oppress
each other and not to cooperate for the common
good.We are self-interested by nature.
The conclusion The causes of faction cannot be
removed. Their impact can only be addressed by
focusing on their effects.
This is a crucial point. Human nature is written
into the constitutional order. It is accepted and
compensated for. We will see this again when we
read through Federalist 51 and discuss ambition.
So here is the question How can factions be
allowed to exist, but not allowed to undermine
stability? By focusing on their effects, not
causes.How can freedom not undermine stability?
To secure the public good and private rights
against the danger of such a faction, and at the
same time to preserve the spirit and the form of
popular government, is then the great object to
which our inquiries are directed.
He begins to address this question by pointing
out that there are two types of
The minority faction (which is les than 50 of
the population) can be checked, in a democracy,
by the majority which can defeat them by vote.
If a faction consists of less than a majority,
relief is supplied by the republican principle,
which enables the majority to defeat its sinister
views by regular vote. It may clog the
administration, it may convulse the society but
it will be unable to execute and mask its
violence under the forms of the Constitution.
The minority can pose problems for society, but
it cannot become tyrannical.
Bu the majority faction can become tyrannical. It
can dominate elections and use government offices
to abuse minorities.
When a majority is included in a faction, the
form of popular Government, on the other hand,
enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or
interest both the public good and the rights of
other citizens.
So thats the danger the majority.He focuses
the bulk of his attention on this.
Tyranny of the MajorityA democracy can become
tyrannical. I have repeated this point and will
continue to do so.
His principle insight In order for the majority
to successfully act against the minority, it has
to haveImpulse and Opportunity
Impulse A common feeling to act against an
unpopular group.Opportunity The means to act
on that feeling.If they intersect the
majority can do anything.
Madison argues that impulse and opportunity
coincide in a direct democracy where people can
meet in person, make quick decisions and
implement them immediately.Think about the
Salem Witch Trials or lynchings.
If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered
to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor
religious motives can be relied on as an adequate
Passion will translate immediately into
legislation, and will be implemented
immediately.This is why democracies are
dangerous. They can be subject to the preferences
of violent, passionate majorities.
Pure democracies can admit of no cure for the
mischiefs of faction since there is no barrier
between the individual and the law.
A republic an indirect democracy - can provide
the solution to this problem. A country can be
both based on individual liberty and sovereignty
and be resistant to tyranny of the majority and
There are two ways republics can cure the
violence of faction.
First because representatives, not the people,
will make decisions. They will less likely to be
motivated by pure passion though this is not
always the case as he admits.Enlightened
statesmen will not always be at the helm.
The representative system will slow the process
down so that passionate feelings will not
immediately influence policy.
The fact that the public can only directly impact
the government in periodic elections minimizes
the opportunity for passionate majorities to
dominate policymaking. They can only have that
influence at the appointed time.
Second because a representative government is
more likely to contain multiple interests, making
it less likely that a single permanent majority
can be formed. The majority is likely to be split.
The existence of multiple interests makes it less
likely that one, or a small handful of interests
will allow for the formation of a majority
especially one that can be sustained.
A large country will contain many interests.
The House of Representatives, for example,
contains 435 members elected from 435 distinct
districts around the country.The various points
of view held across the country will be heard in
the House.
Madison argues that the smaller the republic, the
more dangerous it can be because there will be a
smaller number of interests contained within it.
This makes the formation of a majority more
Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater
variety of parties and interests you make it
less probable that a majority of the whole will
have a common motive to invade the rights of
other citizens or if such a common motive
exists, it will be more difficult for all who
feel it to discover their own strength, and to
act in unison with each other.
Local governments are more likely to be
tyrannical than state governments and state
governments are more likely to be tyrannical than
the national governments.
Note Since the Texas Constitution is far more
democratic in its design and smaller in scale
than the U.S., it may be more prone to tyranny of
the majority.
Madisons point was that states were becoming
tyrannical. The ability of the minority land
owners to preserve their rights property
was being jeopardized.
He noted in the states at that time A rage for
paper money, for an abolition of debts, and for
an equal division of property. A national
government could suppress those tendencies.
Madison's Ironic Conclusion A Republican
Solution to a Republican Problem.
The answer to the problem of factions interest
groups is to make more of them.
Everyone is a minority, no one group can dominate.
A minority cannot tyrannize the majority in a
Certain institutions can preserve the benefits of
a minority.The Senate six year termsThe
Courts appointed to the office, not subject to
popular pressure
Certain procedures allow a minority to stop
legislation from either being passed or
implemented.FilibustersJudicial Review
The Anti-Federalists disagreed with Madisons
assessment and wrote a responseAnti-Federalist
On the preservation of parties, public liberty
dependsA Farmer
The Antifederalist Maryland Farmer, wary of the
emergence of a high-toned social class, urges
ordinary Americans to "preserve your jealousy
for on the preservation of parties, public
liberty depends. Whenever men are unanimous on
great public questions, whenever there is but one
party, freedom ceases and despotism commences.
The object of a free and wise people should be so
to balance parties, that from the weakness of all
you may be governed by the moderation of the
combined judgments of the whole, not tyrannized
ever by the blind passions of a few individuals.
Contemporary criticism 1 Madison seems to
believe that the natural development of groups
will allow these groups to check each other.But
is Madison painting an adequate picture of the
dynamics of group formation?
This raises important questions about how
interests organize and become influential, and
equally important questions about why others
Madison seems to believe that any new interest
will lead to the formation of a group around it.
In some sense this is true.
But not all interests in society are equally able
to organize. Interests that can provide tangible
material benefits to small cohesive members can
organize more effectively than those that cannot.
For examples The wealthy can form more
effectively than the poor.
It is difficult to form interest groups because
not everyone wants to work to make sure they are
effective.Some people free ride off the work of
The Collective Action ProblemThe Free Rider
Groups form only if someone figure out how to get
potential members to avoid the tendency to free
Political EntrepreneurThe individual
responsible for determining how best to organize
an interest.
Often this means figuring out how members can get
selective benefits that are available only to
members of the group.
Groups that can offer the strongest incentives to
join will be more powerful than those that cannot.
Types of Selective BenefitsMaterialPurposiveSo
A material incentive refers to some monetary
advantage one gets as a consequence of being a
member of the group that one would not have
otherwise received.Business, labor and
professional groups, for example.
A purposive incentive refers to the idea that
someone is part of an effort greater than
themselves, a grand purpose. Religious,
environmental, or any other cause that brings
satisfaction, but little monetary advantage.
A solidary incentive refers to groups that exist
primarily to provide people the opportunity to
connect with likeminded individuals.
Informational incentives refer to groups that
provide members information they otherwise would
not have been privy to.
Material incentives tend to work best. This
explains why business groups tend to be the
strongest interest groups.
Other interests, those of the poor for example,
are very difficult to organize.As a result,
they may be far less to have their interests
heard in a legislative institution.
Interest groups politics benefits the interest
that can be most easily organized.Current
example the old are more easily organized than
the young.
Contemporary criticism 2 While minorities
cannot tyrannize, their ability to clog the
administration and convulse society may make
governing impossible.
A current criticism Demosclerosis The
progressive loss of governments ability to adapt
due to interest group pressure.
As societies develop and more groups are able to
get benefits from government, they will fight to
preserve those benefits even if it means
preventing improvements to existing policy.
This makes adaptation difficult. Bad policies can
sometimes not be changed because of the political
strength of the groups that are benefitting from
Current examplesSubsidiesPublic Employment
Powerful interest groups can help develop
networks that establish relationships with
legislative, executive and judicial officials in
order to tighten control over policies that
benefit them.
Popular names for these arrangements Iron
TrianglesIssue NetworksSub Governments
The most common arrangement is called an iron
triangle.Members includeInterest
GroupsLegislative CommitteesBureaucratic
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If the interest group is strong enough to
influence elections to congress and the
appointment of executive officials, they can
effectively regulate themselves
Critics argue that a revolving door exists
between people that work in governmental
agencies, congressional offices, and interest
groups. These are the people that may really
run things.
The term revolving door refers to the fact that
people who work for government often find
employment in the interest groups that they had
some impact upon.
Question Is this corruption?
Perhaps then government can be best thought of as
hundreds of small sub-governments that have
developed around each of the policies established
over time.
Contemporary Criticism 3With more
sophisticated communication devices (online) is
the ability of groups to organize enhanced? Is
impulse and opportunity more likely to coincide
Has technological development made majority
tyranny possible again?Has out hyper-connected
world negated what Madison hoped to accomplish?
Next WeekFederalist 51, the Separated Powers
and the Checks and Balances. How does the
Constitution handle the problem of ambition?
Study Guide
- Republicanism is argued to be one of the
principles established in the Constitution. Be
familiar with what it is and why it is a
constitutional principle.- Be familiar with the
difference between a republic and a pure
democracy.- What is a faction and what problems
did Madison argue factions posed in republics?-
Be familiar with what Madisons solutions to the
problem of factions. What solutions worked? What
solutions did not?
- Be prepared to answer questions directly
related to the terminology in Federalist 10.-
Be familiar with contemporary issues associated
with factions demosclerosis, iron triangles,
etc . . . - What problems did democratic
government pose, according to Madison and the
other Federalists? - Madison had different
attitudes about minority and majority factions.
What were these and why did he have this attitude?
- What did Madison have to say about human nature
in Federalist 10. How is the constitutional
structure a response to it?- Where did Madison
argue that tyrannical majorities were most likely
to form?- What did Madison say about the
formation of groups in society?